As Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a students’ convention to mark 125 years of Swami Vivekananda’s address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, the Congress on Monday accused him of insulting Vivekananda’s memory by disowning the path shown by him.
Party president Sonia Gandhi said that in today’s atmosphere of intolerance and hate, Vivekananda’s message should be the Magna Carta for the way forward. Sonia quoted Vivekananda to make a subtle political attack. She said that Vivekananda had attended the World Parliament of Religions as a representative of Hinduism and India, where
he had quoted from the Bhagavad Gita.
Vivekananda, Sonia said, had said, “‘Sectarianism, bigotry, and it’s horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation, and sent whole nations to despair.’”
“This universal message is time-invariant; it is as relevant today as it was over 124 years ago. Today, more than ever, we are engulfed with the same challenges of prejudices which Swami spoke about,” she said and recalled that he had spoken about both tolerance and universal acceptance.
She said, “While promoting the idea of the oneness of all religions, Swami promoted with equal zeal the idea of the equality of all human beings. In today’s atmosphere of intolerance and hate, Swami (Vivekananda’s) message should be the Magna Carta for the way forward.” The Congress hit out at the Prime Minister, urging him to practise what he preaches. Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said at the AICC briefing, “We expect the Prime Minister to not only preach. We expect him to practise in letter and spirit the messages, the theme, the true ‘atman’ of what Swami Vivekananda said. Unfortunately, in this government we are seeing preaching attaining new heights of glory, and the practice is completely the opposite.”
Singhvi asked of the Prime Minister, “Aren’t you insulting his memory…. Do you even really follow him in letter….when you encourage a culture of hate, bigotry, narrow mindedness, parochialism, politics of prejudice and division? Do you really in any sense of the word follow Swami Vivekananda in practice, spirit or action? This government’s views and actions are the diametrically opposite of what Swami Vivekananda preached.”